April is National Stress Awareness Month – April 16 is Stress Awareness Day

(I’d have chosen April 15 — but they didn’t ask me)

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Life = change. Change = stress. So you probably don’t need to look far to find stress in your life.

April is National Stress Awareness Month.

The Health Resource Network (HRN) started National Stress Awareness Month in 1992. They chose the 16th of the month as National Stress Awareness Day. Obviously, stress doesn’t take an 11-month vacation and just “show up” in April, but this is a reminder to sit down, take a deep relaxing breath, and consider the stress in your life. Where does it come from? What do you do about it? Stress is unique for each individual; take your own personal inventory.

Chronic stress is something we seem very able to accommodate. Once we’ve adjusted to it, it appears to go away. Nothing could be further from the truth. It hurts us over the long term, especially by impairing the immune system. That opens the door to a host of maladies. Chronic stress can raise blood pressure, increase the risk of obesity and diabetes, heart attack and stroke. It can lead to depression and accelerate aging.

We know what we should do: exercise (actually any kind of movement – walking, gardening, housecleaning all count), eat right, drink plenty of water, get enough sleep, relax/meditate, find a hobby, and do something to treat ourselves every once in a while.

Have a good laugh. Get together with friends. Keep a journal. Listen to your favorite music. Taking even 10 to 15 minutes a day for just you helps.

Beyond that, we can make sure our home and office environments do not add to our stress. Learn how and when to say “no” to requests for your time. Learn to recognize situations you have no control over; compromise or accept them and let them go.

We can choose how we respond to stress. We may respond to situations based on attitudes formed early in life – the result of personal experience, observation, or input from authority figures. It’s possible that some of those attitudes no longer serve us well. Those attitudes can be re-programmed.

Being able to control stress is a learned behavior. Start small and work on just one thing at a time – it’s too stressful to try to change everything at once! But now is the time to start!

 

(photo: by imelenchon via MorgueFile)

 

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